angie food cake

Family-friendly recipes from a frugal gal that likes to eat

Crock Pot Thai Peanut Chicken

As I’ve mentioned before, Scott and I are lovers of Asian flavors, so when I saw this recipe on the Cookies and Cups blog, I knew we had to try it. It combines three of the best things in life – the Crock Pot, sriracha and PEANUT BUTTER! Spicy, zippy, creamy chicken simmers all day long and is served over fluffy rice and topped with cilantro for freshness and peanuts for crunch. Love love love!

This recipe calls for a small amount of peanuts (1/4 cup), and since we aren’t typically peanut eaters in our house, I knew I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a big bag, so I just scooped up the amount I needed from the bulk bins at the grocery store. It was cheap (less that $2!) and nothing went to waste.

As with most Crock Pot meals, this can be made the night before and stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to go the next morning. I hope your family enjoys this easy, flavor-filled meal as much as we did!


Crock Pot Thai Peanut Chicken
Very slightly adapted from Cookies and Cups
Printable Recipe


2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1 cup salsa (any variety/spice level works)
juice of 2 limes
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 gloves garlic, minced
2/3 cup creamy peanut butter (I used natural PB, and it worked great)
1/4 cup sriracha
up to 1/2 cup warmed chicken broth, if necessary for thinning (see recipe)
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
Serve over rice


  1.  Place the chicken in the crock pot
  2. In a large bowl, combine the salsa, lime juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, peanut butter and sriracha. Pour over the chicken.
  3. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours.
  4. Remove chicken and shred. Return to Crock Pot.
  5. Check the consistency of the sauce. If it seems too thick, add chicken broth until sauce reaches desired consistency.
  6. Add the peanuts to the mixture and serve hot over rice.
  7. Garnish with cilantro and more sriracha if you like it hot!

Make Ahead Meal – Mac and Cheese with Ham and Peas

I’ve heard other parents talk about how hard mornings are for them. Waking kids up, getting everyone dressed, fed and out the door in time for the school bus certainly sounds like a challenge, but right now, with just me, my husband and our almost-two-year-old, mornings aren’t too bad. Our most challenging time is the minute Addie and I walk through the door at the end of the day. If her dinner isn’t perfectly portioned out on her purple Doc McStuffins plate, ready to be devoured, it’s melt down city!

Luckily, Scott is a super husband and usually has this under control, but sometimes, well sometimes mama needs to go to Happy Hour after work, and even Superdads can’t pick up kids and get dinner on the table simultaneously, so to ease some of my mama guilt and make life easier for all, I whip up a meal the night before and leave Scott with simple pop in the oven and serve directions. Everyone wins! (Especially me… carefree glass(es) of wine FTW!)

This is a simple, crowd-pleasing supper that makes a TON. Yay for lunch leftovers.


Mac and Cheese with Ham and Peas
Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
Printable Recipe


1 pound farfalle pasta
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 cups of shredded cheese (I used Colby Jack, but you can use any cheese you like in your mac and cheese)
1 package (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed* (see tip below)
1/2 pound finely diced smoked ham


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 13 x 9 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Cook pasta in lightly salted water following package directions, about 12 minutes. Drain.
  2. While pasta is cooking, melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour until well blended; cook 1 minute. Whisk in 1 cup of milk and cook, whisking continuously, until smooth. Whisk in remaining 1 cup milk and continue to cook, whisking until thickened and smooth, about 7 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in salt and pepper. Whisk in 2 cups of the cheese until smooth.
  3. In the saucepan, add the pasta, peas and ham to the cheese sauce. Pour into prepared baking dish. Scatter remaining 1 cup cheese evenly over the top.
  4. If doing as a make ahead meal, let dish cool on the counter. Cover with aluminum foil and put in fridge until ready to bake.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly. Remove from oven; allow to cool 10 minutes.

*An easy way to thaw peas is to pour them into the strainer you will drain the pasta in. When the pasta is ready to be drained, dump it directly on top of the peas and voila! Perfectly thawed peas.


Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff for the lazy

I’ve found what might be the most perfect slow cooker beef stroganoff recipe for busy/lazy people! I *heart* the slow cooker AKA CROCK POT, and while pretty much all crock pot recipes are easy, this one is hands down the most tasty lazy recipe I’ve ever made.

Now, it’s not exactly “clean” eating, but I ain’t got time for that 7x per week, so now and then, you get this!


Slow Cooker Beef Stroganoff
Recipe adapted from The Magical Slow Cooker
Printable recipe


2 pounds stew meat (I actually used 1.30 lbs because that’s the size it came in, and it was plenty)
2 brown gravy packets
1 1/2 cups water
1 onion, large dice
2 cups sliced mushrooms (I used cremini. I don’t even like mushrooms and these were perfect!)
1 cup sour cream
1 Tablespoon butter
salt and pepper
1 large package of egg noodles


  1. Put 1 1/2 cups water in the slow cooker, add both gravy packets, and whisk until smooth.
  2. Salt and pepper stew meat.
  3. Add stew meat, onions and mushrooms to slow cooker.
  4. Cook on low for 8 hours.
  5. Cook noodles per package directions, drain and toss with butter.
  6. Add sour cream to the meat mixture in your slow cooker and stir.
  7. Pour the stroganoff sauce over your noodles.

Chicken Pesto Wrap

Hey, remember that pesto I mentioned? Well here it is! Snuggled in a tomato basil tortilla with grilled chicken, red peppers and spinach, this made one delicious, light summer supper.

IMG_7125Chicken Pesto Wrap
Recipe for wrap and pesto from Epicurious
(Printable Recipe)

Makes 4 wraps
        1 cup cooked and cubed chicken
        4 tablespoons pesto (recipe below)
        4 large tortillas
        1 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
        1 red bell pepper, sliced into thin sticks
  1. In a small bowl toss chicken with pesto just to coat.
  2. Place 1 tortilla on a flat surface in front of you. Place 1/4 of the spinach onto the center of a tortilla and top with 1/4 of the peppers.
  3. Place 1/4 of the chicken on top of the vegetables.
  4.  Wrap up into a burrito and repeat with remaining tortillas and ingredients.
Basil Pesto
Makes about 1/3 cup

        2 cups fresh basil
        1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
        1/4 cup pine nuts
        1 garlic clove
        1/4 cup olive oil
        salt to taste
  1. Combine all ingredients except salt in a food processor. Puree until smooth.
  2. Taste and add salt as needed.

Caprese Bread

One of my favorite things about summer in Minnesota is the Farmer’s Market. The smells, the people, the colors, the (cheap) prices – I love it all. Some of the best deals can be found on herbs. I bought a GIANT bundle of basil for $1! The friend who was with me instinctively asked, “Are you going to make pesto?” And sure, pesto is a delicious and obvious choice for a bunch of basil (and let’s be honest, I did also make pesto!), but I had an even grander plan for this bunch. Savory caprese bread! This quick bread is loaded with fresh basil, sun dried tomatoes and mozzarella, and it’s a breeze to make!


Caprese Bread
(Printable Recipe)


(Recipe from Will Cook for Smiles)

    1¼ cup of all purpose flour
    1 cup of bread flour
    2 teaspoon baking powder
    ½ teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon of salt
    3½ to 4 oz of cubed, fresh mozzarella cheese
    2 tablespoons of chopped fresh basil
    ⅓ cup of chopped sun-dried-tomatoes (not packed)
    2 eggs
    2½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    1¼ cups buttermilk
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease an 8×4 inch bread pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix well.
  3. Add the basil, mozzarella and sun-dried tomatoes to the flour and mix until incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil and buttermilk.
  5. Pour the liquids into the flour mixture. Mix with a wooden spoon until all the ingredients are well combined. (The dough will be sticky.)
  6. Transfer the dough into the bread pan and spread it evenly.
  7. Bake for 40-45 minutes (until the toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.)

PicMonkey Collage

Honey Sesame Crock Pot Chicken

The way to my husband’s heart is most certainly through Chinese food. Every time we decide to have take out,  I ask him what he wants, and the answer is always the same… Chinese? Or more recently… Bambu? So, when I saw this recipe, I knew it would be a crowd pleaser! Even better, it’s a crock pot meal, which is mama’s jam.

Honey Sesame Crockpot Chicken

Honey Sesame Crock Pot Chicken

Ever so slightly adapted from Six Sisters Stuff


2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper
3/4 cup honey
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 cup diced onion
1/4 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 6 tablespoons water
sesame seeds


  1. Season both sides of chicken with salt and pepper and set in crock pot.
  2. In a small bowl, combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil and garlic.
  3. Cook on low for 3-4 hours, or just until chicken is cooked through*
  4. Remove chicken from crock pot, but leave sauce. In a small bowl, dissolve cornstarch in water and pour into crock pot. Stir to combine sauce. Replace lid and cook on high for 10-15 minutes, or until sauce is slightly thickened.
  5. Shred chicken and return to pot to toss and coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.
  6. Serve over rice or noodles.

*You know your crock pot best, so you may need to adjust the cook time. My crock pot cooks fast and furious, so 3 hours was better for me.

We served this over Trader Joe’s veggie fried rice and edamame. A perfect time-saver and great way to add veggies to this meal.


Copycat Olive Garden Minestrone

Happy Thanksgiving Eve! I hope you have plans to stuff yourself silly with turkey, gravy and (my personal favorite) mashed potatoes! I know I do.

My recipe for you today has nothing to do with Thanksgiving or leftovers. I’m so great at staying topical. Nonetheless, this  is a perfect copycat of Olive Garden’s signature minestrone soup. This is an easy recipe that’s full of hearty, good-for-you vegetables, which you just might be craving after eating your body weight in pumpkin pie. Hey, maybe I am topical after all!

Copycat Olive Garden Minestrone
Makes about eight 1 1/2 cup servings


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup minced white onion (about 1 small onion)
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup frozen cut Italian cut green beans
1/4 cup minced celery (about 1/2 stalk)
4 teaspoons minced garlic (about 4 cloves)
4 cups vegetable broth (Swanson is good *note ( Do not use chicken broth!*)
2 (15 ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained
2 (15 ounce) cans small white beans or 2 (15 ounce) cans great northern beans, drained
1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup carrot (julienned or shredded)
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups hot water
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup small shell pasta


  1. Heat three tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot.
  2. Saute onion, celery, garlic, green beans, and zucchini in the oil for 5 minutes or until onions begin to turn translucent.
  3. Add vegetable broth to pot, plus drained tomatoes, beans, carrot, hot water, and spices.
  4. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
  5. Add spinach leaves and pasta and cook for an additional 20 minutes or until desired consistency.

Cinnamon Churro Chex Mix

A big thing happened this week. I. Turned. Thirty. I know many women freak the bleep out when they turn 30, but I’m totally cool with it. I love my life, and turning 30 for me was just an excuse to have a great big party with everyone I love.

My day started out with gifts from my sweet husband. He bought me a massage pillow because I was drooling over them a few weeks earlier.

I love how this picture makes the pillow look like a robot!

He also treated me to a few of my favorite things.

This was the most chocolaty cake I have ever seen, and it was fabulous! My husband knows me so well. Which brings me to the next treat he bought me.

Who doesn’t love Reese’s, right? But don’t be fooled, this ain’t no ordinary pack.

That’s a ONE POUND pack of chocolate peanut butter goodness. Ahhh I can’t wait to get home and take a giant bite out of one of those cups!

After the gifts, we started to prepare for my party. We had some friends over to eat, drink and watch the Vikings game.

We had a great spread, including Dr. Pepper pulled pork, spicy jalapeno slaw, meatballs, taco dip, jalapeno popper dip, limoncello cupcakes, red velvet cake cheese ball and more, but my most favorite recipe from the whole day was the Cinnamon Churro Chex Mix.

I die! I inhaled about 50 cups of this stuff. The recipe is a breeze, and it’s a fun and different party food. It’s easier to make than puppy chow and a million times more delicious. This coming from the girl with the one pound Reese’s on her kitchen table!

Cinnamon Churro Chex Mix
from Just Another Day in Paradise


9 cups rice Chex cereal
3 cups cinnamon chips
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon


  1. Pour Chex into a bowl and set aside
  2. Combine sugars and cinnamon in a small bowl. Divide sugar mixture into two gallon-size freezer bags. (You can estimate here.) Set aside.
  3. Pour cinnamon chips into a microwaveable bowl, heat for 1 minute and stir. Heat for 30 seconds and stir. If your chips are not melted at this point, continue heating and stirring in 30 second intervals until the chips are completely melted.
  4. Pour melted chips over cereal and toss until well coated.
  5. Scoop half of the cereal into each freezer bag and zip up. Shake each bag until the cereal is well coated.
  6. Pour the mix into a bowl and enjoy!

Stuffed Acorn Squash

The other day I was grocery shopping, and I passed a rack full of squash. Spaghetti, butternut and acorn. I’ve gone down the spaghetti squash route, and honestly I just can’t do it. Spaghetti squash is so not spaghetti, no matter how hard it tries to be. But since squash is a superfood, I decided to give another variety a chance and scooped up an acorn squash.

I am not the biggest fan of squash (the texture is off…), but I love  a challenge, so I did a little Googling and threw together this stuffed acorn squash recipe. It turned out pretty great!

Stuffed Acorn Squash
Serves 2


1 acorn squash
1 Tbs butter
Salt and Pepper
1/2 cup couscous
1/2 lb ground turkey
1/2 an onion, chopped
3/4 cup chopped carrots
1/2 Tbs dried oregano
1/2 Tbs dried thyme
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the squash in half and scoop out the pulp and seeds. Place both halves in a baking pan, flesh side up. Pour 1/4 cup of hot water into the pan. Add 1/2 tablespoon of butter to the center of each squash and season with salt and pepper. Bake the squash for 60-70 minutes, or until it is tender.
  2. When you have about 30 minutes left on the squash, prepare the couscous according to package directions and set aside.
  3. Saute ground turkey, onion and carrots, in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add salt and pepper, oregano and thyme. Cook until turkey is no longer pink. Drain excess water and grease.
  4. Combine meat mixture with the couscous.
  5. When the squash is ready, fill both halves with the mixture. You can stuff them all the way to the top. You may have extra filling.
  6. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella on each half and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted.

The great thing about this recipe is it combines the sweet, tender flavor of acorn squash with the salty, savory flavor of ground turkey, oregano and thyme. I thought this really worked well, and it was so filling. Definitely a great fall recipe!



Taco Pasta

TGIF! Who has big weekend plans? I have a busy day tomorrow. My city hosts a clean up day, so my husband and I get to drop off a truckload of crap! I. Cannot. Wait. Our garage is full of random things the previous owner left for us, and it’s finally time to say goodbye!

I’m also spending Saturday afternoon with my sister-in-law and mother-in-law having a soup cooking extravaganza! We’re making chicken chili, steak chili and minestrone. We’re all looking forward to having freezers stocked full of soup for the upcoming winter.

I’m planning to make an Olive Garden copycat minestrone recipe, so I’ll share it with you next week.

This week has been a good one. Kicked it off with tailgating at the Gopher Homecoming game. I didn’t go to the U, but it’s still fun to dress up in Gopher gear and show our support. Plus day drinking is always a blast!

I’ve also just been enjoying the weather. I feel like we often miss out on fall in Minnesota (official seasons are winter and road construction), but this year has been really great. I love this tree in our backyard.

Too bad there’s already 5,897 leaves on the ground and another 6,324 still on the tree. Yay raking.

We also got to dog-sit Amery, Scott’s parent’s dog. It’s so fun for Luke to have a friend in the house.


I also spent a lot of time on Pinterest this week, looking for new recipes. This recipe contains two of my favorite words – taco and pasta. Sold!


Taco Pasta
From Overworked Supermom


1 pound ground beef (I used ground turkey)
8-12 ounces medium pasta shells  (I used whole wheat penne)
1 small onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14 oz.) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 packet (4 tablespoons) taco seasoning
3 ounces cream cheese (I used 1/3 less fat)
1/2 cup sour cream (I used light)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional – I didn’t have this, so I didn’t use it, but would’ve been great.)
Salt and pepper


  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup of pasta water. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, cook the ground meat and onions over medium-high heat until the meat is done. Drain any excess water or grease.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes, garlic and taco seasoning and let simmer over medium heat, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the cream cheese, sour cream, cooked pasta and a little of the pasta water. Continue stirring until the cream cheese is melted and the sauce is well blended. Simmer for a few minutes over medium heat to reduce the sauce.*
  5. Salt and pepper to taste. If using cilantro, toss right before serving.

*I am unsure if the pasta water is essential to this recipe. You wouldn’t need to simmer to reduce the sauce if you didn’t use it, but it might add flavor. Like I said, I’m unsure! Next time I make this, I’ll skip the pasta water to see what happens.

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